Who Is My Neighbor?

Some of us may have asked this question at some time.  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, most of the religious leaders were racist, bigots, and selective in whom to choose to love. Hence, they asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” One of the religious members asked this question. An expert in Jewish law came to Jesus with a tricky question. Let us refresh our memory by reading about the encounter between the lawyer and Jesus in Luke 10:25-29.

“A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, (belongings), beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So also, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.  Look after him, he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Then Jesus summarized the conversation by commanding, “Go and do likewise.”

Now, let us briefly look at the attitudes of religious leaders who saw the victim: The Priest, the story stated he was the first person who had the chance to stop to help, but he did not.  As a Priest, he is supposed to have the feeling or love of people in his heart. Yet, he saw this man in a terrible situation and he just looked at the other and passed by.  Who knows what was going on in his mind that made him not to help the victim? Today, the same thing still happens, when people avoid an accident victim, abused victim, etc. because they don’t want to inconvenience themselves or for anything to interrupt their journey. The Love of Jesus

The second person that saw the victim and passed him without stopping to offer help was a Levite. He is supposed to be a learned person.  a man of the law and order. Then came the Samaritan, despised race by the Jews, because they consider them to be mixed race, not pure because they adopted other religious beliefs and practices of the pagan nations. As a result, no one will expect a Samaritan to have the courage and mindset to stop to help a Jew. But as God may have it, a Samaritan was one who stopped and took care of the victim. Hence, Jesus use the story to answer the question “Who is my neighbor?” Read Luke 10:33-35, to see the action and sacrifice of the Samaritan and why he is called a Good Samaritan. The interesting lesson is that the Samaritan crossed racial and religious restrictions to offer help to a fellow human beings. What a heart of love! He took great risks.  He spent his money, time, energy, and safety to rescue the Jewish victim.

I know that this is a popular story that even our children in grade schools can recite. But as we read it, I pray that we don’t lose the spiritual meaning. The question is how often do we empathize with those beaten up by hardship, sickness, poverty, racism, etc? Do we as Christians intentionally get involved with hurting people?

I pray that as we read this story it will remind us about the love of Jesus, and why He wants us to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  It is God’s intention that His children be like the Good Samaritan. That we show Jesus’ love for everyone.



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